NaNoPrep: The Question of Outlines18:15
Outlining is one of the big things people ask questions about every year. Should you outline your novel? And if so, how much outlining should you do? It’s a valid question. NaNoWriMo is all about being spontaneous. It’s about starting with nothing and ending up with a novel. Some people believe that it’s best to just start with a vague idea and run with it. And that’s fine. But unless that is how you normally write, then if you want a novel that has potential instead of being just a pile of words, then relying on inspiration alone is probably not the greatest idea.
NaNoWriMo is an intense challenge. You have to hit a minimum word count every day if you want to win. The word count graph doesn’t care whether you have the flu, stayed up to two in the morning writing assignments, or that your muse didn’t turn up to work today. The fact is, you have to write those 1,667 words every day, no matter what. And inspiration isn’t going to hit every single day. This means that there’s a high chance that your book will come to a grinding halt. That’s where outlining helps. Even a little planning can make a huge difference once NaNoWriMo starts.
Outlining for Pantsers
Pantsers, I know that the very thought of writing an outline with neat little scene and chapter divisions fills you with fear. You’re about the creative flow and letting the characters take over. So writing up a detailed outline isn’t really going to help you at all. Instead, write a short synopsis of your book. It doesn’t have to be more than five or six sentences long. All it has to do is give a broad overview of the basic plot to give you a road map when you start writing. It gives you a bit of direction, while still leaving plenty room for creative improvisation. (The second step of the Snowflake Method is really helpful for writing that synopsis.)
Outlining for Plotters
Plotters, you know your method of outlining better than I do. Plan your book so that you’re sure you know enough to get started writing it. Make sure you’re comfortable with your outline before NaNoWriMo starts. Once you start writing, there won’t be any time for extra outlining. But don’t get too attached to your plan. The craziest, best ideas can pop up during NaNoWriMo. But they can completely change the direction of your book. Be ready to let go of your outline if something amazing comes up. Spontaneous ideas are often some of the best ones.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? What are your best NaNoWriMo tips? Know someone who is doing NaNo? Share this blog series with them!
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